In 2002 the queen of Malaysian pop Noraniza Idris released her album Aura, named after the fourteenth-century Moroccan Berber explorer Ibn Battuta (1304–1369), who journeyed to south-east Asia. One of history’s great travellers, he visited the equivalent of 44 countries (as far east as Quanzhou, China), spurred on by a desire to witness ‘those glorious sanctuaries’ of other cultures across an unknown world.
Battuta was ahead of his time in embracing the idea of a world connected by culture and ideas, regardless of race and origin. His outlook would have chimed with the late Martinican writer Édouard Glissant’s notion of ‘tout-monde‘ – a view of the entire planet as a network of interconnecting communities. It is a sensibility that is increasingly taking shape within everything we do. While global communication networks allow for immediate interaction and exchange, it is the job of art galleries and museums to show the more nuanced, layered approaches to our collective cross-pollination of art and ideas. This seems particularly relevant in the twenty-first century, when there is a need to rethink the history of modern and contemporary art in both Western and non-Western cultures, and to highlight these rich connections.
Tate is already undertaking this journey, as its varied summer programme suggests. Tate Modern will be showing the work of Ibrahim El-Salahi, the Sudanese artist who studied at the Slade in the 1950s and is now regarded as an important figure in African modernism, as fellow Sudanese artist Hassan Musa writes. At the same time, Tate Modern is staging the world’s first major museum show of Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair, whom the writer Rasha Salti describes in this issue as a ‘stellar pioneer’. The exhibition reveals how Choucair’s extraordinary painting and sculpture have elegantly blended European influences (she studied with Fernand Léger) with her interests ranging from Islamic art to Beirut architecture. These exhibitions will be in good company alongside the work of Ellen Gallagher (cover image), whose potent blend of myth, history and fantasy continues to draw from an enormous range of sources, while the Beninese artist Meschac Gaba challenges preconceived notions of what African art can be with his twelve-room installation Museum of Contemporary African Art, recently acquired by Tate. A work that draws on both the heritage – and humour – of Marcel Broodthaers and Marcel Duchamp, it also provides the perfect arena within which to experience first hand a sense of the interconnectedness of art and life.
Bice Curiger and Simon Grant
At one stage the British artist Marlow Moss was at the heart of the European avant-garde, living in Paris where she knew Piet Mondrian and was taught by Fernand Léger. So why did she end up living in isolation in a small village in Cornwall?
He preferred to be seen as an artist within the great European tradition of Juan Gris and Georges Braque, while his bold paintings based on the everyday celebrated the arrival of colour, food, fun and a sense of the exotic into the British cultural landscape
In this touching personal account, the esteemed playwright David Hare remembers the life and times of his friend Patrick Caulfield
A friend of L.S. Lowry in the 1960s remembers the artist and his cheeky sense of humour
Polish painter Wilhelm Sasnal finds the sublime, the symbolic and memories of his childhood in the paintings of L.S. Lowry
A poet who grew up with Lowry’s popular prints in the family home and his mother’s stories about ‘Lowry-like people’ on the streets of Manchester finds that it is the painter’s portrayal of north-west England as post-apocalyptic film-set that remains most compelling
Celebrated documentary photographer Shirley Baker captured the same areas in Manchester and Salford that L.S. Lowry painted. Here, she talks about her colour images of post-war urban communities in the context of his art
The American artist Ellen Gallagher (born 1965) draws from a wide range of sources including music, myth, science fiction, literature, black popular culture and advertising. Many of these strands are on display in her first large-scale exhibition in a public space in the UK. Tate Etc. invited artist Theaster Gates to respond to her work
Prior to becoming known for his colourful abstracts, Patrick Heron (1920–1999) flourished as a textile designer. His father, Tom, ran the highly successful Cresta Silks in Welwyn Garden City, and Patrick was for a while its principal designer. To coincide with a new display featuring some of the silks alongside his art, his brother shares his memories of the painter’s formative years
Spread over twenty rooms, Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis’s vision for the extensive rehang hinges around a chronological display from the mid-sixteenth century to the present
Tate Etc. invited a selection of contemporary artists featured in the new rehang of British art at Tate Britain to choose a favoured work from a fellow artist – past or present – also on display. Here, Rose Wylie discusses Robert Peake’s Lady Anne Pope 1615
Tate Etc.invited a selection of contemporary artists featured in the new rehang of British art at Tate Britain to choose a favoured work from a fellow artist – past or present – also on display. Here, John Stezaker discusses Stanley Spencer’s The Resurrection, Cookham 1924–7
Tate Etc. invited a selection of contemporary artists featured in the new rehang of British art at Tate Britain to choose a favoured work from a fellow artist – past or present – also on display. Here, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye discusses Walter Richard Sickert’s Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Isabella of France 1932
Tate Etc. invited a selection of contemporary artists featured in the new rehang of British art at Tate Britain to choose a favoured work from a fellow artist – past or present – also on display. Here, Richard Smith discusses Paul Nash's Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935
Tate Etc. invited a selection of contemporary artists featured in the new rehang of British art at Tate Britain to choose a favoured work from a fellow artist – past or present – also on display. Here, William Tucker discusses Phillip King's Tra-La-La 1963
Tate Etc. invited a selection of contemporary artists featured in the new rehang of British art at Tate Britain to choose a favoured work from a fellow artist – past or present – also on display. Here, Fiona Rae discusses Bridget Riley's Hesitate 1964
Tate Etc. invited a selection of contemporary artists featured in the new rehang of British art at Tate Britain to choose a favoured work from a fellow artist – past or present – also on display. Here, Jann Haworth discusses Alan Davie's Celtic Dreamboat I 1965
The work of the pioneering Lebanese abstract artist born in Beirut in 1916 is now increasingly recognised across the globe. A total of 120 paintings and sculptures in wood, metal, stone and fibreglass, which combine elements of Western abstraction with Islamic aesthetics and reflect her interests in science, mathematics and Islamic art and poetry, feature in her first UK exhibition at Tate Modern. A friend and admirer provides an insight into the life and art of a remarkable woman
The Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi (born 1930) is a significant figure in African and Arab modernism, whose work reflects a rich cross-pollination of art, ideas, culture and tradition. To coincide with his first exhibition in the UK, Tate Etc. asked a fellow Sudanese artist to pay homage
The Beninese artist Meschac Gaba (born 1961) took five years to create his twelve-room installation, the Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997–2002, recently aquired by Tate. This huge work, consisting of related sections including a library, music room, salon and ‘humanist space’, challenges our notions of what a museum can be
A forthcoming exhibition at Tate Liverpool focuses on how Marc Chagall combined the Jewish folkloric painterly roots of his native Russia and the Parisian avant-garde, with its Fauvist, Cubist, Expressionist and Suprematist styles, to create a visual language of its own. To date, art historians have preferred shining a light on his contemporaries Malevich, El Lissitzky and Rodchenko, but Chagall's biographer argues he was 'the most enduring figurative artist of the Russian avant-garde, and the most emotionally engaging one'
Marc Chagall painted the enigmatic Hommage à Apollinaire while immersed in the Parisian avant-garde, but it integrated his passion for exploring his Hasidic roots
Dor Guez and Milovan Farronato take a detail from a work in the Tate collection as a starting point for their short personal reflections
A little-known oil sketch by L.S. Lowry's teacher Adolphe Valette was recently discovered in the Tate archive. Valette's biographer tells the story of how it got there
Poet Terrance Hayes responds to the work of Ellen Gallagher
Works in focus
From his earliest days as a student in the 1920s to the 1950s when he was a Trustee and until his death in 1986, Henry Moore’s art and life were closely entwined with that of Tate. To coincide with two new displays at Tate Britain, which include work donated by the artist in 1978, Tate’s new Henry Moore Foundation research fellow celebrates the sculptor’s gift
A new series of In Focus displays at Tate Britain takes an in-depth look at artworks as well as items from the Tate archive. The subject of one of these is Constable’s oil sketch A Cornfield c.1817, an unfinished picture he made outdoors in Suffolk, and which was acquired by Tate in 2004. It is connected with the genesis of the famous picture in the National Gallery, The Cornfield 1826, which, as one Constable expert argues, means far more to us than its simple subject would suggest
The rehang of the collection of British art would not be complete without J.M.W. Turner. Included in the new displays are his extraordinary watercolour sketches of the burning of the Houses of Parliament in 1834